Celebrate the Kentucky Derby Like a Local

While you may not live in Kentucky, you can still celebrate the most exciting two minutes in sports with Louisville style at the bar or at home! [Updated 2023]

2023 Kentucky Derby 149 Woodford Reserve Special Edition Bottle  WOODFORD RESERVE®: OFFICIAL SPONSOR OF THE KENTUCKY DERBY

What are traditional Kentucky Derby drinks, food, and fashion?

Celebrate the Run for the Roses Like a Local: It's All About the Mint Julep

For nearly a century, Kentucky Derby fans have celebrated Kentucky Derby Day and raised a toast to the winner with a frosty Mint Julep.

Run for the Roses Kentucky DerbyWoodford Reserve Classic Mint Julep

  • 2 oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon (or 2 oz. Unsweetened Iced Tea for Mocktail version)
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 3 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Crushed Ice

Express the essential oils in the mint and rub them inside the glass.  To the same glass, add remaining ingredients and crushed ice.  Stir. Garnish with more ice, powdered sugar, and fresh mint sprig.

Old Forester® Pineapple Julep

IngredientsOld Forester Pineapple Julep cocktail recipe
  • 1.5oz Old Forester 100 proof
  • .5oz Diplomatico
  • .25oz Pineapple liqueur
  • .25oz Demerara syrup
  • Handful of Mint

Garnish: Mint bouquet & Pineapple wedge

Pack mint julep cup with crushed ice. In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients. Lightly bruise mint leaves with a muddler, strain contents into julep cup. Garnish with 3 generous sprigs of mint and a pineapple wedge. 

How many mint juleps are served on Derby Weekend?

Each year, almost 120,000 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack.

That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.


Feeling "Meh" About Mint? Why not enjoy Woodford Reserve 
neat or on the rocks?



Woodford Spire Official Kentucky Derby CocktailWoodford Spire


  • 1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve (or 1.5 oz. Unsweetened Iced Tea for Mocktail version)
  • 2 oz. Lemonade
  • 1 oz. Cranberry Juice

Preparation Add ingredients to mixing glass and stir. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist. 

Not into Bourbon? Try the Finlandia Oaks Lily®

Finlandia Vodka Oaks Lily Cocktail

The signature cocktail of America's premier race for 3-year-old fillies was developed to create a more feminine libation that reflects the essence of the hot pink and white-hued stargazer lilies that adorn the garland that is draped over the shoulders of the filly that wins the Kentucky Oaks.

  • 1 1/4 oz. FINLANDIA Vodka                       
  • 1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
  • 1/4 oz. Triple Sec
  • 3 oz. Cranberry Juice
Once the ingredients are mixed, place the pinkish cocktail in a stemless wine glass with crushed ice, add a straw and garnish with a blackberry and lemon wedge.

Kentucky Derby food favorites:

  •  Shrimp Dip
  • Pimento Cheese: the "caviar of the South," can be enjoyed on a Ritz cracker, as a soup, in grits, make grilled cheese with a kick...heck, they even put it on AND in burgers! 
  • Cheese Straws
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Benedictine Spread: more commonly known to Northerners as "Cucumber Dill Dip"
  • Hot Brown Sandwiches: hot WHAT?! you say...a Hot Brown is an open-faced white toast sandwich with sliced turkey covered with Mornay sauce, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, then oven-broiled until bubbly and finally topped off with crispy bacon strips. Hot YEAH!
  • Buttermilk Biscuits: pile on Country Ham, Fried Chicken, whatever protein you fancy as long as it's topped with pickles you're all set! Speaking of pickles...
  • Pickled Shrimp: serve on toast or make it a main meal over grits, rice or pasta
  • Pie: Derby Pie, Blueberry Pie, and Pecan Pie are among the favorites
  • Bourbon Desserts: Balls, Bars, Brownies, Bread Pudding. Chocolate and Bourbon simply belong together!

As long as your Derby party menu includes cheese, shrimp, something pickled, and plenty of bourbon, you're definitely celebrating the Kentucky Derby like a local! So head on over to Pinterest and get inspired.

Popular Kentucky Derby Fashion

  • Guys, this is the one legitimate excuse to wear seersucker and a bow tie. Extra points for a fedora!

  • ​Ladies, don't be afraid to wear a wild, wide-brimmed hat or a funky fascinator. This royal fashion statement is fun and not just for church or weddings.

​Sing along to "My Old Kentucky Home"

Even if you're watching on TV, it's pretty amazing to witness and be a part of the relevry from the bar or your living room. In Kentucky there are three major traditions – Basketball, bourbon and horse racing.

So it makes perfect sense that the most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, should feature the state’s official song, “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The Commonwealth of Kentucky adopted the song in 1928, but it was originally published in 1853 as “My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!”

The song was written by Stephen Collins Foster, who is known as “the father of American music,” and is believed to have been inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In fact, Foster’s first draft of the song featured a working title of “Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night.”

Not only did the song’s title undergo a change before publication, but the lyrics of “My Old Kentucky Home” were altered in 1986. It’s unclear when it became the definitive song for the Kentucky Derby, but some report it was played as early as 1921 for the 47th running. 

If you've made it this far down our post, you're definitely ready to celebrate the 149TH running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs like a local. Cheers!

Kentucky Derby Cocktails with Old Forester Finlandia Woodford Reserve

A special thanks to our friends at Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, and Finlandia for teaching us a thing or two about doing the Derby Kentucky-style!

#DerbyLikeALocal #kyderby #kentuckyderby #kentuckyderby149 #derby2023

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